Thursday, June 30, 2011

Friday Following & Hopping #27

Happy Friday!!!  Hello to everyone stopping by my blog via Follow Friday (hosted by paranormal blogging queen Parajunkee).  I'd also like to welcome any of my old followers just dropping in to say hi.

I'll be out of town at the castle in the mountains this week (I know, how many times have I said that before?), but I'll be back on Monday the 4th! Leave me your links when you say hi, and I'll be sure to return any visits and follows.  :)

This week's featured blogger over at FF is:
Erika @ Let's Talk About Books.

And the question is:

ACK!  Your favorite book/movie character (example Hermione played by that Emma chick ((Emma Watson!))) just walked into the room!  Who is it and what would your first initial reaction be?  You get extra points if you include visual stimulation.

My answer:  Oh no. Psst. This is the part where I have to admit I don't get into most movies very much.  (Though I realize that was a movie reference-- five points if you can tell me where it's from.)  In general, I have very limited taste in movies.  I like the unusual, the fantastical, the macabre, the well-acted and the odd.  And I like the ones which are based off books best of all.  Some of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations are Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland.  I also like Sweeney Todd, which is in fact based on a play, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the new one).    

So I'm going to totally combine all of these movie adaptations and say that I would absolutely die of excitement should I happen to meet Helena Bonham Carter.  She's the most brilliant actress!  I loved her as Mrs. Lovett, as the mad Red Queen in Alice, as Bellatrix Lestrange, Morgan le Fay in Merlin, even in Planet of the Apes and Corpse Bride, and as whatever-her-character's-name-was in Fight Club. And she's married to Tim Burton, besides... isn't she all together so wonderful?  What about you guys?  Who would you most love to meet?

I wish you all happy reading and a fantastic weekend!

Merciful by Casey Adolffson

Genre: fantasy-- mythological
Pages: 494 (paperback)
Published: March 2011
Recommended for: paranormal romance readers and those interested in Greek myth
*Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

At 17 years old, Acacia Moirgetes is starting to feel like her boring, lonely existence is something of a tragedy. A Greek tragedy, that is. Acacia quickly learns that the life she thought she knew is a lie.  More disturbingly, it’s a lie she’s been telling herself to avoid the terrible truth.

Now she’s on a mission to corral the Greek gods of myth back to Mount Olympus before all Hades breaks loose. With the help of her guide, a curmudgeonly former goat named Amal, and her two Pyroskia— devastatingly handsome bodyguards, Blaise and Ash, whose devotion to Acacia runs deeper than either ever imagined—Acacia must follow the truth to its darkest ends. Along the way, she’ll have to recover her forgotten powers, come to terms with the woman she once was, and perhaps most importantly, discover why she left Olympus in the first place.

My Take: 

My grandmother sometimes says, "There is a horse for every kind of person in the world: skittish horses for skittish people, gentle horses for gentle people, and for people who don't like to ride, we have horses that don't like to be ridden."  It's the same way with books, of course-- sometimes readers are destined to ride off into the sunset with a book because it's exactly their kind of thing.  Other times, we encounter books that simply aren't up our alley, for whatever reason.  This was how I felt about Merciful-- the book and I never really clicked, but I'll try my best to write a review which does the book justice, as it is both well-written and well-told.

Acacia begins her story as a young librarian, one whom finds herself abruptly disappearing from her daily job of shelving and reappearing in a mysterious desert, clad in unfamiliar garb in an unfamiliar land, alarmingly often.  During one of these strange lapses in time, Acacia discovers that she isn't in fact seventeen years old, but seventeen thousand years old-- and she is the most powerful Moirae, one of the three mistresses of fate in Greek mythology.  So it isn't too much of a stretch that her father is also Zeus, and her extremely devoted, stunningly handsome bodyguards Ash and Blaise are her Pyroskia-- Pyros for short.  Their sole purpose in life is to protect Acacia from rivals and enemies, of which she has gained many over the course of the last seventeen thousand years, and to assist her in all things.  Acacia quickly falls in love with Blaise-- and begins to wonder if she hasn't already fallen in love with him before-- even as she slowly begins to regain her memories.  Meanwhile, her father Zeus has promised Acacia's hand in marriage to Ares, god of war... unless Acacia can gather back the gods and goddesses who, like her, left Olympus before time runs out.  

This book is something of a tome at nearly 500 pages, and in many cases I think things and events could definitely have been left out or shortened to a more readable length.  The writing is elegant and flawless-- I don't think I spotted one grammatical mistake or misspelling over the course of such a huge book.  Acacia is a protagonist with a unique voice, one whom a reader will get to know and understand well very quickly.  The take on Greek mythology is unique and unlike any other modern mythos-type story I've read.  

But.  (Yep, there's a but.)  The story really dragged for me, as I said.  And a disclaimer: I'm not a big fan of paranormal romance.  I really, really dislike heroes who hang over the heroine all the time, somehow managing to form a love triangle as they fuss over her and smother her and guard her life at any cost, etc, etc.  I have the same pet peeve with leading ladies who hover over heroes.  Blaise and Ash's feelings and behavior towards Acacia was explained and made perfect sense within the context of their existences as Pyroskia.  But there were many moments when I just wanted to slap all three of them.  I grew exhausted with Blaise's dogged love for Acacia in particular.  Acacia's interactions with her bodyguards are perhaps a quarter or more of the book, and that didn't make it easy for me to ignore.  However, I will freely admit I'm not much of a romance reader-- as those of you who've read my reviews before know, I tend to be cynical of relationships in books-- so I'm obviously not the intended audience here.  Read Merciful if you dig this sort of romance, and if you're searching for a rather epic and sprawling story which features colorful characters along with surprising twists of plot and of one very mysterious past.

Cover: 5/5 (like it!)
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 2/5
Plot: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #32: The Name of the Star & Queen of Kings

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted at that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week I'm featuring one book whose release I'm anxiously awaiting and another already-released book which I'm waiting on (with somewhat less confidence but equal anticipation) to magically Apparate onto my bookshelf... 

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson 
To Be Released: September 29th, 2011

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. 

But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley
Published: May 2011

There’s more than one path to immortality…
A thrilling, chilling reimagining of the story of the most famous woman in history.

Once there was a queen of Egypt…a queen who became through magic something else…
The year is 30 BC. Octavian Caesar and his massed legions are poised to enter Alexandria. A messenger informs Egypt’s queen, Cleopatra, that her beloved Mark Antony has died by his own hand. Desperate to save her kingdom, resurrect her husband and protect all she holds dear, Cleopatra turns to the gods for help. Ignoring the warnings of those around her, she summons Sekhmet, goddess of death and destruction, and strikes a mortal bargain. And not even the wisest of Egypt’s scholars could have predicted what would follow…

For, in return for Antony’s soul, Sekhmet demands something in return: Cleopatra herself. And so Egypt’s queen is possessed. She becomes an immortal, shape-shifting, not-quite-human manifestation of a deity who seeks to destroy the world. Fighting to preserve something of her humanity, Cleopatra pursues Octavian back to Rome: she desires revenge, she yearns for her children…and she craves human blood. It is a journey that will take her from the tombs of the Pharaohs to the great amphitheatres of imperial Rome and on, to Hell itself where, it seems, the fate of the world will finally be decided. 

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cover VS Cover: Lament & Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Cover VS Cover is a semi-weekly meme at A Myriad of Books that I started because I've long been fascinated with the differences between international covers.  A few weeks ago, while on the hunt for the covers of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, I couldn't help but be distracted by the breathtaking covers for Maggie Stiefvater's other, earlier books-- the Books of Faerie, aka Lament and Ballad.  So this week I absolutely had to feature them in Cover VS Cover!

If you've never heard of these two books, here's a brief synopsis: in Lament, Deirdre is a talented and painfully shy harpist who discovers that she is a cloverhand-- a human whom faeries naturally flock and gather around.  She stumbles into a world of trouble and deadly fey politics, accompanied by her hilarious best friend and bagpiper, James, and the shady yet charming Luke.  Ballad is a sort of companion novel starring James at a boarding school for the musically talented, where he makes the mistake of falling in love with a faerie girl whose only purpose in life is to steal the talent and youth of artists like himself.  Both books are definitely worth checking out.  Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the covers, and let me know what you think!

 There have been two different editions of Lament released in the US.  The one with the sword and clovers is the hardcover, and the one featuring the woman the paperback.  I have the paperback, and the subtly eerie, almost ashy tones of that cover are very striking in person, although the first cover is more appropriate to the story.  I love the simple poignancy of the burning leaf on the Ballad cover.  A lot of countries have adopted that one, with only slight variations.

I can't help but love these covers, despite the fact that the caged bird being set free is based on something within the books (but not apparent from the synopsis), and thus will probably leave those who find them via browsing in book stores thinking, 'Huh?'  It all makes a lot more sense once you read the prologue of Lament, though.

Ich liebe the first cover: the girl's wistful expression and the leaves and clovers strewn through her red hair.  The book looks as though it would have an interesting texture-- kind of glossy.  The expression and pose of the Ballad girl is a bit weird for me, but again I love how the little swirls match up to the first cover.  


Not very much deviation from the US set here, just the addition of the sword being stuck in a log in the middle of a lake where clovers float like lily pads.  If I saw it (and couldn't read the title), I'd probably think it was an Arthurian-type novel about the Lady of the Lake or something.  The leaf is simply focused a little more on the Ballad cover.  And, no, I was unable to find an image of the second cover which was the same size as the first. (Frustrating!)

I like the two Bulgarian covers very much-- especially the one for Ballad.  Though, again, we have the same elements repositioned or recombined for this set.

There doesn't appear to be a Dutch edition of Ballad yet.  The simplicity of this one is intriguing, though I don't understand why they changed the title Lament to Heartbeat.

Again, I couldn't find a Latvian edition of the second book.  But this one is very striking!  I love the Celtic emblem subtly overlapping everything, and the sun beaming through the dark intricacy of the tree's silhouette.

To sum it up, that's 13 covers from 7 different countries.  My favorites are probably the UK covers and the Latvian cover of Lament.  What about you guys?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 390 (hardcover)
Published: May 2011 by Scholastic
Recommended for: fans of satire and anyone who is intrigued by the synopsis rather than compelled to back away very slowly

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

My Take: 

So the premise for this novel wins this year's award for Most Insane Yet Oddly Intriguing Story Idea.  I'm a huge fan of LOST and of course, Libba Bray, so this one had been on my to-read list for a year.  Having read it, I was the tinsiest bit disappointed, because the island the girls were plane-crashed on wasn't nearly as intriguing as the LOST island, nor was it as disturbing or well-written as Lord of the Flies, to which it has often been compared, and which it was doubtless inspired by.  BUT, it doesn't need to be.  And it wasn't meant to be. Beauty Queens is a very satirical novel-- far more satirical than I was expecting.  It approaches the subject of female empowerment and the double standards in society against women really quite fantastically, though I think the constant references to boy bands and shoe designers and make-up were sometimes laid on a bit too thickly.  In short, the book isn't what you would expect... and yet, it is.  *Slaps forehead*.  OK, the point is, there's a method to Libba Bray's madness as always.  Still, a great deal of it was just that... madness. 

Our beauty queens are fifty... er, fourteen (a couple of the girls had 'unfortunate accidents' following the plane crash which killed the pilots and camera crew onboard) gorgeous, bikini-and-prom-dress-clad young ladies.  They're psyched up for the competition, even after the little mishap that is the deadly plane crash, and while on the island they continue to practice their routines and speeches and specific talents-- which vary from traditional Indian drumming to 'Christian pole dancing'.  Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins is Miss Texas, a sweet and stand-up Southern belle who immediately nominates herself as leader.  Miss New Hampshire is Adina-- the only one of the girls who seems to realize exactly how long it might be before they are rescued and what it will take for them to survive.  

I loved the way the girls are slowly introduced through mini flashbacks and memories, how they become much more than shallow, superficial beauty queens in our eyes once their characters have been fleshed out both on and off the island.  The pirates-- yep, there are pirates involved, and in fact they are reality TV pirates-- are all great characters as well, considering their limited screen time.  My favorite ship in the novel is definitely that of Petra, our transgender beauty queen contestant (and it's interesting to say the least when the girls find out about that) and Sinjin St Sinjin, the captain of this crew of reckless young pirate-wanna-bes.  The book is totally enjoyable and flows nicely despite the cliches which abound around every corner and everywhere in between.  That Libba Bray humor doesn't hurt, either.

At times, the message about feminism and girl power could be a bit condescending in the way it was presented-- not exactly subtle and smart.  I like for chick characters to SHOW the reader how strong and tough and intelligent they are, rather than for one of the characters to TELL us what we already know about how hard life can be when you're a woman and how you've got to overcome it.  Overall, though, this is the sort of book I recommend as a novel to enjoy whether than try to analyze or take a lot away from.  For me, the feminist theme never quite came together, but the characters and the situations made this a fun ride anyway.  And with Libba Bray as our pilot, I truly do not have the heart to complain.  I have very high hopes for her next series, The Diviners.

Cover: 5/5 
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In My Mailbox (#20)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. The idea behind IMM is not only to put new books on our radars but also to encourage blogger interaction. IMM explores the weekly contents of our mailboxes: books bought, received, won, and borrowed, along with other goodies and swag.

Lots of good stuff this week-- the most exciting for me being that beautiful edition of The Hobbit!  Without further ado,
Here's what I got: 

E-books/ For Review: 

-- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
-- Tiger's Quest (Tiger Saga #2) by Colleen Houck
-- The Demon's Covenant (Demon's Lexicon #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan
--The Demon's Surrender (Demon's Lexicon #3) by Sarah Rees Brennan
-- The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
-- Fury by Elizabeth Miles
-- Damned (Crusade #2) by Nancy Holder
-- The Book of Harry Potter Trifles, Trivia, and Particularities by Racheline Maltese

Reviewed This Week:

So, what's in your mailbox?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Liar Society by Laura & Lisa Roecker

Genre: YA contemp/ mystery
Pages: 361 (hardcover)
Published: Marcy 2011 by Sourcebooks
Recommended for: fans of YA mystery and Pretty Little Liars

Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, she’s not so sure. 

Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
Subject: (no subject)

I'm here…
sort of.
Find Cameron.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace’s death was more than just a tragic accident. But secrets haunt the halls of her elite private school. Secrets people will do anything to protect. Even if it means getting rid of the girl trying to solve a murder...

My Take: 

Here's a fair warning: I really don't like mysteries.  I just don't, so this review is bound to be a little biased.  I'm the sort of person who can't stand surprises or clandestine whispers, and so it's hardly surprising that I find little enjoyment in books where our protagonist must slowly work her way to the truth of who-dunnit and then confront the murderer-perpetrator, typically spewing such exclamations as 'It was you!  You were the one who...'  Now, I know mysteries are actually a very popular genre and beloved by many.  Therefore I think The Liar Society would appeal much more to other readers.  But for me, personally, here's why this book and I didn't click:

The whole plot of this book felt vaguely familiar, like a clique that isn't quite over-used enough to be a clique, per say... it's just all eerily similar to an episode of Ghost Whisper you saw last week.  The premise-- a girl dies in a terrible tragedy and her friend later receives mysterious emails from her disused account telling her to seek out the truth-- is a 'hook' if I've ever heard one, and this was absolutely a difficult book to put down once you got started.  Yet I figured out the mystery of who killed Grace and why and who was involved long before our MC Kate did, which ruined the intended suspense even in the long-awaited climax and confrontation with the baddies.  I also was never quite clear on whether or not Grace-- who appears to Kate several times, often only as a glimpse of a black-haired girl who turns out to be somebody else entirely-- was in fact a ghost, or if Kate was simply spurred on by the memory of her best friend and somehow projecting her ghost.  None of the characters except for Kate and Grace were very memorable-- even Liam, the bad boy-type Kate begins to reluctantly date on-and-off and who the authors try to frame as the prime suspect, didn't make much of an impression.   I was annoyed by the pink-haired girl on the cover, too, if only because I did not read of one pink-haired girl in the book. (UPDATE: Turns out the ARC copy I won is drastically different from the finished book.  In the early ARCs, Kate is a plain brunette and never dyed her hair after Grace's death.)

Now, as to what I did like: I liked the feel of the exclusive private school, Pemberly Brown, which the girls attended.  The details of the stacks in the library's basement, the old chapel, and Grace's memorial bench made it an interesting story world to visit.  The warring secret societies and age-old traditions of the school proved cool as well, especially a candle-lit ritual among sophomore girls in a tower on school grounds.  The story alternates between the present, with Kate trying to piece together the mystery of Grace's tragic death, and the past, when Kate, Grace, and their friend Maddie received mysterious invitations to one of the school's most clandestine ritual celebrations... and Grace failed to come out of the chapel where it was to be held alive.  Overall, I certainly didn't love this one, but I think a lot of readers would.  It's 4+ stars rating on Goodreads proves that.

Cover: 3/5
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Irish Princess by Karen Harper

Genre: historical fiction
Pages: 368 (paperback)
Published: February 2011 by New American Library

Born into a first family of Ireland, with royal ties on both sides, Elizabeth Fitzgerald- known as Gera- finds her world overturned when Henry VIII imprisons her father, the Earl of Kildare, and brutally destroys her family. Torn from the home she loves, her remaining family scattered, Gera dares not deny the refuge offered her in England's glittering royal court. There she must navigate ever-shifting alliances even as she nurtures her secret desire for revenge. From County Kildare's lush green fields to London's rough-and-tumble streets and the royal court's luxurious pageantry, The Irish Princess follows the journey of a daring woman whose will cannot be tamed, and who won't be satisfied until she restores her family to its rightful place in Ireland.

My Take: 

The Tudor era-- and in particular the reigns of Queen "Bloody" Mary and her father King Henry VIII-- is as fascinating as it is gory.  It never fails to astound me, how less than 500 years ago England was a place ruled by the iron and absolute will of a single monarch, the Tudor Court a place where you could lose your head or be sent to the Tower of London to waste away on the slightest whim of your King.  Even though we often know the fates of the characters we read about in historical fiction (at least the true historical ones), personally I always develop stronger attachments to characters in historical books than in any others.  Perhaps because they did live, and truly had to persevere through the horrors and circumstances of their times, which were almost unfailingly far darker than our modern world today. 

The Irish Princess stars Gera Fitzgerald, a proud daughter of sixteenth century Ireland's most noble family and uncrowned kings.  When her father loses favor with the brutal king Henry VIII, he is locked away in the Tower of London and the young Gera's five uncles and half-brother, Thomas the Silken, recklessly lead a rebellion and soon meet the siege of their beloved Maynooth Castle as King Henry tries to take back Ireland from the Geraldine-- Fitzgerald-- family who he entrusted it to years ago.  Maynooth falls after a terrible treachery, and with it the Geraldine rule of Ireland and the happiness of Gera's childhood there.  Her brother Gerald flees faraway in order to escape the wrath of the King, who orders her five uncles and half-brother drawn and quartered in England.  Even as a young girl, Gera's bravery and devotion to her family and Ireland is powerful-- the scene where her uncles were taken away to die through the streets of England gave me chills, especially when the teenage Gera, hiding among the jeering crowds, took up the battle cry of her family: "A Geraldine!  A Geraldine!"  

Gera vows that she will someday kill the King who stole her family's lives and legacy, the man who took everything from her.  She and her sisters and young brother, spared the horrible deaths met by the men of her family, are wretched from Kildare, Ireland, and taken to the Tudor Court.  Gera meets the young princesses Elizabeth and Mary-- each of whom she grows to sympathize with despite her hatred for their father the King.  Gera meets the handsome and enigmatic sea captain Edward Clinton at a young age-- and cannot deny her attraction to him, once again despite his loyalty to the hated King Henry.  As she grows older and still cleverer, Gera becomes torn between two worlds-- the painful memory of her family's demise and the longing she feels for Ireland and her brother do battle with her love for the English Edward and her newfound friends at Court.  Most of all, she struggles to defer politely to King Henry when at last she meets him in person, when she longs to fulfill her childhood vow that she will be the one to kill him.

This is the sprawling, yet single-minded story of a resourceful, snarky, and incredibly courageous young woman who by all rights should have been a princess but, due to tragic circumstances of Fortune, instead had to struggle to keep her very life and pretend loyalty to a King and a country whom she loathed with all her being.  The Irish Princess was an emotional read for me as well as a thrilling one, and one which happily does not end with the tragedy with which it began.  I cannot wait to seek out more of Karen Harper's books. 

Overall Rating: 5/5 all around          

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (#31)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted at that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week I'm featuring one book whose release I'm anxiously awaiting and another already-released book which I'm waiting on (with somewhat less confidence but equal anticipation) to magically Apparate onto my bookshelf... 

Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr
To Be Released: February 21st 2012

This will be a collection of short stories by Melissa Marr, author of the YA Wicked Lovely series and the adult novel Graveminder.  I also enjoy Marr's particular take on faeries and the cover is so eerie and promising!  A few of the short stories will be interconnected with the world of Wicked Lovely, others promise vampires and selkies and retold fairy tales galore.  Can't wait, only wish we didn't have to wait so long!

 The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente 
Published: May 2011

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.  With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful. 

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cover VS Cover: the Gemma Doyle Trilogy

Cover VS Cover is a semi-weekly meme at A Myriad of Books that I started because I've long been fascinated with the differences between international covers. This week I'm featuring a fantastic and captivating historical fantasy YA series-- the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray.  Let me know what you think, guys, and I happily take recommendations on what covers to feature!

Here we have the familiar US/UK covers-- I love these for their simplicity, yet the intricacy of the corsets give them a little something which is bound to caught your eye.  The first book in particular manages to capture the emotion of the MC, Gemma, perfectly.  These have been proud residents of my book shelf for a few years. 

 Quite a few of these cover sets feature models and faces-- I feel a little like I'm judging a runway competition or something!  The make-up for these girls doesn't scream Victorian to me-- it seems more modern.  But otherwise I like how the lacing on the sides of each book fits perfectly into the lacing of its sequel to form those sort of flowers.

I really like the covers for A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels... not sure what happened with The Sweet Far Thing.  I double-checked about a billion times to make sure it indeed went along with the other two in the series!  The second cover in particular is somewhat eerie and entrancing.

Again, the Rebel Angels cover shines.  It's much more interesting than the other two-- and I can't figure out what the heck that white object is on the third cover.  Any ideas???

Ugh, I strongly dislike these, despite the cool faded shots of London and Spence Boarding School.  The girl's head, fixated in the exact same expression and transposed onto all three covers, is simply awful.  It's just weird!  When I found these, I got a feeling that Jenny of Supernatural Snark could probably have a bit of fun with them in her romance novel cover critique feature.  One can only hope-- though I really would like the covers but for that transposed head! 

So, that's 15 covers from 5 different countries. Hope you guys enjoyed checking them out!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hexed by Kevin Hearne

 (Book #2 in the Iron Druid Chronicles)
Genre: urban fantasy
Pages: 294 (paperback)
Published: June 2011 by Del Rey
Series recommended for: all fantasy fans

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

My Take: 

Hounded, the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles, made a fangirl out of me.  Having finished Hexed, I am officially a total Atticus O'Sullivan fangirl for life.  I hope very much that these books are the first in a very loonng series (we're talking Tarzan of the Apes series long, though hopefully the plot points won't include anyone discovering Atlantis just yet).  As it is, I could not be more excited for the next book.  

A myriad of mythological figures and characters make an appearance in this volume...I'm a sucker for witch stories-- the more folkloric their brand of magic, the better--, so let's start there.  There are two covens in this book: the local Tempe coven are a half-dozen Polish witches who we met in the last book and who Atticus is currently trying to negotiate a peace treaty with.  (These ladies are all right, unless they happen to get a hold of a strand of your hair for their collection... ahem.)  And then there are the aforementioned new witches in town: Die Tochter der dritte Haus, or the Daughters of the Third House.  Atticus has a rocky personal history with these particular witches, and we get to learn about another little piece of his extensive lifetime.  But there's really no time to reminisce about the past, because the Daughters of the Third House are determined to take Atticus down for good this time... and if they can't have him, they'll start with some of his dearest friends.  

Atticus's werewolf attorney Hal makes only a brief appearance in this second book, but Atticus's vampire attorney Leif soundly steals the spotlight and steps in as Atticus's cohort in his most uncanny art of scaring-the-shiz-out-of-the-local-authorities.  Time and time again, Atticus avoids trouble with the mortal authorities more creatively than any urban fantasy hero out there!  Let's see... Oberon the Irish Wolfhound is back and packing a still more hilarious obsession-- this time the lovable pooch is ready to hop on the Magic Bus with Ken Kesey, and is all about sticking it to the Man.  (You just have to read the book, I swear ;)  Granuaile, Atticus's newly-adopted Druidic apprentice, is really starting to grow on me.  Not so much Brigit, sexy and, yup, fiery Celtic goddess of fire and the forge, as well as one of Atticus's main love interests.  I have this long ground-in image of Brigit as this saintly, Virgin Mary-like figure (except, y'know, pagan and armed with blacksmith's tools and what not), but her character in this series is as wily and deadly as she is admirable.  Devastated the archetype for me, but I'll give her a break.  I also loved the character of Coyote, the Native American hero of countless stories in the flesh, and here a wily, hilarious badass.  

The conclusion of this book promises a battle to the death with Thor, everybody's least favorite resident thunder god himself, in Hammered.  I recommend this series to every mythology freak out there, as well as anyone who loves a fun urban fantasy adventure. 
Overall Rating: 5/5 all around 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (#19): The Birthday Edition

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. The idea behind IMM is not only to put new books on our radars but also to encourage blogger interaction. IMM explores the weekly contents of our mailboxes: books bought, received, won, and borrowed, along with other goodies and swag.
I got a ton of awesome books for my birthday and from the trusty library this week, so there's no space to waste with babble. I'm jumping straight to all the bookish goodness!

What I got: 
Birthday Stuff:

From the Library:

Free E-book:

--Welcome to Bordertown: short faerie stories by Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, etc, etc
-- Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
-- Ruby Red by Kersten Gier
-- Slice of Cherry (Portero #2) by Dia Reeves
-- Death Note Black Edition (!!!) Volume 1 by Tsugumi Ohba
-- Chime by Franny Billingsley
-- Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
-- The Irish Princess by Karen Harper
-- Shine by Lauren Myracle
-- Summer's Crossing by Julie Kagawa

Thanks to: 
-- the Gaston/Lincoln County Library System
-- My sister Pinky (eye luv u, -chan!)

Reviewed These Last Few Weeks:

So, what's in your mailbox this week?

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